Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Refocus

Well it has been on my mind for a while, but I think the time has come to transition over to a new blog. 

This blog has been so many things since it started. It's been my rant box, it's been my craft challenge, it's been where I learned to cook. But maybe what it was always missing was a focus. 

I was told once you shouldn't bother with a phd until you know what you are passionate about. That really stuck with me. It has taken a long time to figure out that I never really knew what and who I wanted to be, much less what I wanted a blog to be. But now I'm close to knowing. 

So bear with me over the next couple weeks, as I take a hiatus and determine what the new blog will be, what site it will be located on, and where I go from here. 

And as always, happy crafting. 
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Kale Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

-1 medium but fat sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
-1 bunch kale leaves, stems and ribs removed
-12 asparagus spears, chopped
-1/2 C onion, finely chopped
-2 garlic cloves
-2 ounces feta
-6 eggs
-2 tsp paprika
-salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 9 inch baking dish and preheat your oven to 385F. Line the bottom with sweet potato slices. Cut some slices in half and line the edges as well. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, sauté the kale, asparagus, onions, and garlic in a little evoo or preferred oil. I used a teaspoon of olive oil and a half tablespoon of Serrano honey vinegar (Fustini's of course). Cover and steam until tender. 

When the crust is ready, add 2/3 of the veggies and half the feta. Whip the eggs and put half the eggs in. Add remaining veggies, eggs, and feta. Top with salt and pepper as desired. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes. 

I put it in myfitnesspal app and about half the quiche clocks in at 457 calories. HALF THE QUICHE! I feel awesome. I ate about a quarter of it. If I want to get back down to 145, I should be clocking in just over 1,300 calories a day if I don't work out. That in and of itself is motivation to workout a bit more because really...1300? That's it? No joy. Don't get me wrong I don't think I'm fat or anything, I don't hate my body or anything like that, but I do want to get a little healthier and used to a healthier lifestyle. I'm a big believer in getting used to something before you have to do it. Someday, I won't have a metabolism that makes up for my terrible habits, and then I would have to do major overhauls. 

I'm attempting to put my recipes in my app which is a slow process but it is cool to know what the calorie counts are on things I like to make. So far it looks like most of the things I've been making are right around 500 calories. That was a good thing to see, as I shouldn't have to overhaul things to terribly. 

Happy (healthy) crafting!

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Chicken Slaw Salad in a Spicy Peanut Dressing

-4 ounces shredded rotisserie chicken
-1 small bag rainbow slaw
-1 C Greek yogurt
-1 C almond milk
-6 TB PB2 (powdered peanut butter)
-1/2 TB Siracha, plus more to taste
-1/2 tsp ginger
-dash soy sauce
-2 tsp garlic
-1 tsp evoo, flavored if desired

Mix everything except the chicken and slaw to form the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, and add more Siracha as desired. The peanut flavor is rich so you will probably end up using a little more than what you might think, but start off low. I made the mistake my first time using Siracha of starting with a healthy tablespoon and that was quite the chicken salad let me tell you. 

But if you like your lips going numb, by all means start heavy. 

Once you have the sauce adjusted as you like, add it to a bowl with the chicken and slaw and toss to combine. Or start with a bowl big enough to toss the ingredients in and learn from my errors. 

The tiny bag of slaw is a lot more than it looks, so you will probably use all of the sauce. Stir it around well and taste, adding more salt or spice as needed. Refrigerate overnight. 

The boyfriend and I are going to try to eat healthy until Thanksgiving and the holiday season, and I am making it a point to make it as painless as possible. Healthy eating never has to be boring, and it also doesn't have to be complex. You can whip this sauce up in under five minutes, you can use one bowl if you start with a big enough one (I did not), and you can buy preshredded chicken from your deli at the grocery store and make it that much simpler. 

We got back a bit earlier than usual today thanks to traffic not being nearly as bad as when we traveled on the fourth. I crashed for a nap, as logging ten hours driving over one long weekend really caught up with me. We had stopped on the way home for just enough groceries for lunch tomorrow and a snack, and somehow this idea popped into my head. 

Why just enough for those meals? If you knew me, you would know I am the most irresponsible person ever in the grocery store. I. Love. Grocery stores. I love finding new things and concocting crazy ideas on the fly and I always buy too much. 

And then I waste it. 

And then I'm sad. 

But we had discussed the time I made shepherds pie with sweet potatoes (no crust) on the way back and how good it turned out. It was one of those things where I made it once and never thought about it again. As I picking up the ingredients I was thinking about other things I had not had in a while, and my healthy peanut sauce popped in my head. Over the weekend we were at a pitch-in with a lot of great salads, and that is how this idea spawned. 

We will see what kind of reviews the boy gives it tomorrow. So far I have had very good luck and excellent reviews on my healthy salads and dips, so I am quite hopeful. 

I got to do a lot of cooking this weekend, and I had a great time doing it. I'm actually not one for wanting to avoid cooking on vacations or mini-trips, and I love when someone will let me come in and commandeer their kitchen for a moment. My mom and my boyfriend's mom are awesome for this. They both consistently have excellently-stocked kitchens and never mind what new shenanigan I'm proposing. This time it was my Mexican street corn muffin, a hit with my mom and now with the boyfriend's family as well. 

It was also redemption for me, because last time I made those muffins I really screwed them up. 

Don't forget baking powder in muffins. It will haunt you. 

Luckily there's none of that in this recipe and it is pretty much no fuss no muss. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spicy Cherry Glazed Ribs

-1/3 c cherry balsamic vinegar
-1/3 C dried cherries
-1 Serrano pepper, finely diced
-2/3 C chicken stock
-1/2 c onion, finely diced
-2 garlic cloves
-2 tsp dark maple syrup, or a pinch of sugar for sweetness

-1 rack pork ribs, I used spare, salt and pepper and hit it with a dash of Worcestershire 

Ok first, you want to cook all the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan on medium until it reduces down a bit and the cherries are nice and plump. Don't get me wrong you can reduce it to your hearts content, but I am an impatient soul so you know I didn't make it over thirty minutes. 

When it is done, transfer it to a food processor and blend. It just occurred to me that I probably could have used my immersion blender. I really need to remember that I own that nifty thing more often. 

Anyway blend it up nice and good and put about 2/3 of the glaze on the ribs (split between the two sides). Wrap them in a foil pack and bake on 350F for two hours. 

Very very carefully remove the wrap (at least the top) and put the remaining glaze or desired portion of it on the ribs, in the meanwhile letting your oven heat up to 385F. 

Put the ribs back in the oven and let them bake uncovered another 20 minutes to carmelize and really get a crust on them. 

The thing I love about foil packing ribs is that they are fall off the bone tender when you pull them out. Yes they take a while and yes it has a lot of steps but this is probably the best rack I have made. They had a hint of a kick to them without being obviously spicy, which is the right balance that I like to hit. I like when spice sneaks up on you, but doesn't necessarily overwhelm you. In the back of your mind you know it's there but like any good dish it's so much more than just your face burning. 

I realized that I had already messed up my 52 weeks of wonderful initiative as I did not post last week. It's like my boss told me one day, sometimes life just gets in the way. 

After a whirlwind of shopping for a new car and driving all over creation, I did this week sign on the line and found myself in a brand spanking new Subaru Crosstrek. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm really not a fan of new cars usually. Why eat that depreciation when someone else could right? 

But the Crosstrek was the first thing I had sat in since the loss of my beloved old Durango that I instantly fell in love. It's kinda like when I met my boyfriend for the first time and I thought "yep, that one". But unlike a guy a car doesn't have a choice, so really the process is a lot less messy when you think about it...

Regardless, it took me three days from the time I saw it until I could bring it home. I figured I would catch all kinds of heck from my family, but for the most part they have been really supportive and impressed. 

The fact of the matter is, we spend tons of time in vehicles. Most of us commute around 30 minutes to work, we take trips in them, heck we even eat meals in them sometimes. So regardless of the fact that I did love not having a car payment for so long with the Durango, and would not have had one much longer with the jeep I just traded off, I just don't advocate for driving something you hate. 

I tested a CR-V, a RAV-4, and an Outlander. I was really bummed out, and didn't want to pay for six years on something that just wasn't meshing with me. The aforementioned boyfriend, who really is quite awesome, suggested looking at Subaru and we ran across a Crosstrek while scouring the Internet. After that, it was about three minutes in to the test drive that I decided "yep, this one". 

And like I said, cars are a bit simpler and you don't ever have to look nice or say clever things to get their attention, so this was right up my alley (hah, kidding, I attempt to look nice every now and then). So now me and the Subes (her nickname) are tearing up the roads and having a grand ole time. 

How does this have anything to do with these ribs? Well other than the fact that it made me forget to post last Sunday, essentially nothing. But I never promised that I wouldn't ramble. 

But seriously make these ribs and impress everyone you know. Or make them and don't tell anyone so you can eat them all yourself. I won't judge you. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Raspberry Rolls

-3 packs raspberries with 2 TB sugar, a dash or two of ginger, and 1/4C balsamic vinegar (I used Espresso bean by Fustini's) let them sit about 20 minutes and then mash
-2C AP flour, plus another 3/4 as needed
-1/4C sugar
-1 packet yeast
-1/4C milk
-1/2C water
-2.5 TB butter
-2 eggs
-optional almond butter
-juice from mashed berries (strained)
-1 to 2C powdered sugar
-2 TB butter

Mix the flour, yeast, and sugar together. Warm the butter, milk, and water until its about 110-115F or so. Add that to the dry ingredients, adding eggs next. Add enough flour that it just forms a ball. It should be a sticky dough. 

Turn it out on a well-floured surface. Roll it out into a big square, the thinner the better. Spread the almond butter if you decide to use it and spread the raspberry mix on, draining as much liquid off as you can and saving it. Roll the dough up carefully and cut 1 inch slices off. 

Set the slices in a pan, I lined mine with parchment paper. Space them out as much you can and let them rise in a warm place for an hour. Preheat your oven to 350F and bake for 20 minutes or until they start to brown. 

Mix the icing ingredients and drizzle over when they come out of the oven. 

You could also just dust them with powdered sugar. I prefer icing any day. This dough is a great base for any cinnamon roll flavor you want to concoct because its friendly and only requires the hour of rise time. 

Until next time!

Happy crafting. 
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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guinness Marinated Spicy Baked Ribs

-1 rack of spare ribs
-1 bottle of Guinness 
-spice rub: 2TB chipotle pepper flakes, 2TB paprika, 2 tsp garlic, 2 tsp ground mustard, 1 tsp celery salt, 1 tsp minced onion, 1 tsp oregano

Make a foil pack and set the ribs on it. Pour half the beer over the top, season with spice rub, flip and repeat on the other side. Let them sit in the marinade refrigerated overnight after closing up the foil pack. 

Preheat your oven to 350F and bake the ribs for 2 hours. Remove from oven and turn heat up to 385. Carefully unwrap the pack cutting if necessary to expose the top of the ribs. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes to get a nice crust. 

Yes, really tasty ribs are really that simple. I like ribs that are fall off the bone tender, and typically will do them in a crockpot. But this spare rack was really inexpensive, and doesn't quite fit in my crock. I love pork cooked in Guinness, and I really think it works well here. The steam from all the liquid helps get the meat nice and tender, and the beer and spice rub work well together. 

I most certainly did not hear any complaints from my boyfriend, so I would say these were quite successful. It's nice to be able to get a full flavor meal like this without the sugar content in BBQ sauce. I would call it a win all around. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Buffalo Wing Stuffed Peppers

-1 lb ground or shredded chicken cooked with cumin, salt, and pepper
-1 c chopped celery 
-1/2 c onion, diced
-2 cans green chiles 
-1/4 c Franks hot sauce
-2 tsp oregano
-2 bell peppers, halved and seeded 
-salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the topping ingredients together and season to taste. Stuff in the pepper halves and put on a baking sheet with a rim. 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add a loaf pan half full of water and let it warm up about fifteen minutes before adding the peppers in. The steam will help cook the peppers and keep the filling moist. 

Bake for about 35-40 minutes. I plan on topping them with a greek yogurt bleu cheese dressing that is light and healthy. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shrimp Skimpy (Healthy Scampi)

-1 zucchini about 6-8 inches long, spiralized into noodles
-1/4 c diced onion
-8 to 10 shrimp
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-EVOO and another flavored oil if desired, I used Fustini's Serrano Honey Vinegar
-salt and pepper to taste

Welcome to your new go-to for healthy in under 15 minutes. 

Anyway put a couple teaspoons of EVOO and a teaspoon or so of the flavored oil if using it in the bottom of a nonstick pan on medium heat. Add your garlic and onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times. 

I chopped up my shrimp so that I could get the taste through the dish without having to add so many shrimp. They are kinda expensive and I'm kinda cheap. 

Anyway add the zucchini noodles and shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done, adding salt and pepper as needed. 

And that's IT. You are welcome.  No, seriously, this is really simple and really quick but tastes like you had time. I made this as a lunch dish for tomorrow at work. 

I do suggest chopping your noodle pile in two or three places. You would be surprised how long a zucchini noodle gets from such a small veggie...

I'm really sleepy, so we will keep this short and sweet. Happy crafting!
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chipotle Fajita Filling

-1/2 tablespoon espresso bean balsamic vinegar (I like Fustini's)
-1.5 tsp EVOO
-1 tsp puréed chipotle peppers
-4 ounces of cab steak strips or other steak variety 
-2 green bell peppers, sliced
-1/2 medium sized onion, sliced (about a cup is the goal)

I start by sautéing my veggies on medium high heat with one half of the sauce, made by combining the first three ingredients and mixing.  Do this until they are starting to get tender. 

At that point, scoot the veggies around the pan so the center is clear for your meat.  Add it in, season with a little salt and pepper, and use half of the leftover sauce per side as you are cooking. You should only need a couple minutes on each side for these thin strips. 

Toss all the veggies and beef then devour. You can do these in lettuce wraps, on tortillas, or on cauliflower rice. 

If you are paying attention, these fajitas follow pretty well the zone guidelines.  My boyfriend has done zone for a while now, and I jumped in a little before we started dating. In fact, I think it might have been one of the things that brought us together. 

Partly, this was due to the fact that I did not think the meals he was eating looked appetizing, as four cups of green beans looks a lot like misery to me, and I decided to butt in and develop recipes that were zone and pretty and yummy.  Crossfit zone doesn't really approve of bread, and that did scare me a bit. But I do love a good challenge. 

So fast forward a couple of months and this is one of the tastier dishes I have developed. Flavored vinegars and oils from quality stores add a lot of flavor options without having to drown something in oils and heavy spices. I have become quite addicted to Fustini's Blood Orange EVOO and the Espresso Balsamic Vinegar. Eventually I may even branch out and try new ones. Maybe. 

It has long been my argument that food brings people together. Healthy food doesn't have to be boring, and good times can be had without caloric overload. It just takes a little creativity and quality products. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Snack

-2 ounces shredded chicken
-1/3 C Greek yogurt
-1 TB franks hot
-2 TB black beans, rinsed
-1/3 C finely chopped onion
-6 celery pieces
-salt and pepper to taste

So I like to keep life simple when I get back from vacation. You just mix everything but the celery and season to your liking. You could use your favorite hot sauce or spin off this with adobo sauce or others. I like to chill stuff like this overnight before eating it. 

Why is this such a simple post when I have such lofty goals of making wonderful food? Sometimes wonderful is things that come together quickly when you get in super late returning from a trip. Or something you don't have to turn the oven on for because your apartment is 80 because you just got back from a trip. Or something with a lot of flavor but very little work because you want to curl up and sleep but yet you also want to look like you made an effort. 

Life tip, fellow humans, don't start lofty diet regimes on the day you get back from vacation. You really won't want to meal plan the night before. But for those of you who are like me and even though you said you weren't super woman you are still trying to prove yourself wrong, I offer these tips:

Preshredded rotisserie chicken. It's probably in your stores deli section. Take advantage of the fact that they over estimated their demand. 

Precut celery bits. They last so long in the fridge. And they are so ready to go. 

Happy crafting! And goodnight. 
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cucumber Dill Chicken Salad

- 6 oz shredded chicken
-1/2 to 1 c Greek yogurt 
-1 large cucumber, diced
-1/2 c chickpeas
-1.5 TB dill
-2 TB parsley
-dash oregano
-pinch of lemon zest
-salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of these ingredients up and season to your taste. You can also add olives to this or even feta cheese and adapt it as preferred. 

This is something we have been using a lot for snacks, and it is best chilled overnight but can be eaten immediately as well. This involves a lot of healthy ingredients and is packed with healthy ingredients. This makes it in to our meal plans multiple times per month. It is a great summer picnic snack, and one that won't heat up your kitchen. 

Cook the chicken in your crockpot overnight on low for an even easier assembly with essentially no heat required! 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Simple Lego Cake

I got talked in to making a Lego cake for one of my boyfriend's friend's kid's party (yes I just wanted to use a lot of apostrophes) and the theme was Lego.

Let me start off by saying that I thought of 800 ways to make it the most complicated cake in the world.

I considered making Lego men out of marshmallows and rice crispy treats.

I considered making Legos out of cookie bars.

I considered a 3D two tiered shenanigan.

And then I decided that the best Lego cake might just be the ones that mimic a Lego play area itself.  Because that is, in fact, the most recognizable form to a four year old.

So what better to make than one that looks like a Lego play mat.  I can still remember the big Lego table with the green base that was at my pediatrician's office while I was growing up.  Just like all the questionable towers I built waiting for my check-ups, this cake just needed a good base.

I used buttercream icing (2 sticks of butter, 2-4 cups of powdered sugar depending on your stiffness preference, a dash of vanilla, a tablespoon or so of water, as needed, whip on high for at least 5 minutes!).  I also bought candy blocks from the movie theater food aisle at Meijer.  Talk about a life saver.  I used one of the larger blocks upside down to stamp the circle pattern in the green base.

Now I know that technically those dots should stick out, not in, but seriously I did not have any desire to try to make uniform dots.  If you are obsessed with accuracy, by fondant and use a larger writing tip or similar as a cookie cutter for dots.

Anyway, then I used more icing directly on the back of the blocks to cement them down to the cake and to each other.

For the lettering, I used a large round tip for the name and did the white first.  Then I use a normal writing tip to do the yellow name outline and the wording base.  For these, I did the equivalent of two lines wide of icing because I knew I was going to come back and put black on it.  In hindsight, I wish I had gone ahead and used yellow for the piping as well, but overall that did not make that big of a difference.

Plus, it was a relief to have one small bit of icing without a ridiculous amount of color in it...

As could be expected, everyone was really happy with the cake and it was a pretty good success.  I have the most fun helping out on fun cakes like this as opposed to some of the elaborate cakes in life, mostly because we all need a little more whimsy.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Maple Bacon Oatmeal Cookies

For the Cookies
-2 sticks butter, softened
-1 C packed brown sugar
-1/2 C sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 3/4 C AP flour
-1/4 C real maple syrup
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp cinnamon
-dash of nutmeg
-3 C oats, plus a few tablespoons more as needed for a thicker, firm batter
-about 6 strips of thick bacon, fried just under crispy and cut into small pieces

For the frosting
-1/2 stick butter
-1 C+ powdered sugar
-1/4 C Maple syrup
-dash of water, as needed

Mix the butter and sugars first until they are creamy.  Add in the egg, vanilla, maple syrup, and spices and beat well. Add in your dry ingredients, saving the bacon for last, and mix well.  Fold in the bacon and drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool before frosting.

Mix the icing ingredients, adding enough powdered sugar to make it pretty firm like a candy center, or adding just a little water if it gets too hard to mix.  When it is the right consistency, pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so and frost on the cookies.  When it cools down it will set pretty firmly.

Devour.  And relish the moment.

These were a big hit at work.  They are sweet but not too sweet.  This is the first time I have included bacon in cookies, and I think these are going to be a pretty consistent make for me.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chorizo Meatballs, Zucchini Pasta and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

For 24 meatballs:
-1 lb ground beef
-8 oz chorizo
-1 large garlic clove, minced
-1/4 C minced onion
-1 TB basil
-2 tsp oregano
-2 eggs
-36 almonds, ground finely

For the Sauce:
-4 red bell peppers
-1/2 C onion
-1 garlic clove
-2 tsp Worcestershire
-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
-Salt and pepper
-1 TB basil
-2 tsp oregano
-2 tsp rosemary
-2 tsp parsley

-1 zucchini or more as needed, spiraled into noodles

I used my kitchenaid to mix all of my meatball ingredients together.  Next, I formed them in to 24 relatively even-sized balls and placed them on a baking sheet.  I cooked them at 400F for 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, throw all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor and blend until pureed.  Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spiralize your zucchini.  I am in love with my spiralizer that I bought from Amazon, it is one of the heavy duty ones that sits on your counter.  It takes care of the zucchini in about 30 seconds and there is very little waste or effort on my part.  I could not be happier!

I personally did not cook the noodles this time, instead opting to pour the piping hot sauce over them and let it all steam for a few minutes.  You have the option of cooking the noodles separately by sauteeing them in a pan, or by tossing them in with your sauce and cooking for five to ten minutes if you like.  Since you can eat zucchini raw and since the noodles are so small, I was not too concerned.

Also, this is something we are taking for lunch tomorrow, so the microwave can take care of it for me.

The meatballs, I must say, are delicious!  I have had some issues making good meatballs before but these are really good.  I highly suggest draining them on a paper towel when they come out of the oven, because at the end of the day this recipe is just a hybrid sausage ball.  That means grease.

That is also why I mixed these with a lower fat sirloin.  You could probably use ground turkey in place of the beef if you prefer, I just have had some bad luck with it and opted to stick with what works for me.

Maybe turkeys just hate me.  It's mutual.

Regardless, I am very excited for this meal.  I will be using 3 meatballs for me and 4 for the boyfriend.  You could always make them smaller if you want to have a lot of meatballs in each serving and want them to cook faster.

I am hoping to consistently post on Sundays for my 52 Weeks of Wonderful, as it will be nice to be in a habit.  We will see how that works for me on vacation...

Until next time, happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Snickers Pie and the Start of 52 Weeks of Wonderful

First the Pie, then the story:
-1 C ground roasted unsalted peanuts
-1/4 C cocoa powder
-1/4 C sugar
-2 Eggs

-8 oz heavy whipping cream
-1 pk reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
-1 C powdered sugar
-1/4 C PB2 (the powdered peanut butter)
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 C almond milk

-Snickers (I like the mini unwrapped bites)
-Chocolate sauce
-Rough chopped peanuts

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Grease a pie pan and mix all of the crust ingredients together.  Press into the bottom and up the sides, and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool.

Whip the filling ingredients together starting at a low speed to incorporate then whipping on high until a thick creamy custard-type texture is achieved and all of the lumps are out.  After the pie crust is completely cool, add half the filling mix in.  Put a layer of ground peanuts down and drizzle a little caramel over the peanuts.  Top it with the rest of the filling mix.  Drizzle caramel and chocolate over the top and put snickers around the edges.

Chill it for an hour or so, or pop it in the freezer.

I made this for my dad who is retiring.  I think "Happy RePIErment" is a pretty delicious sentiment, and maybe much tastier than a card or flowers.  He loved this pie, although he agreed it must be eaten in small slices as it is very, very rich.

The first year I did this blog, I did something every single day for the 365 Day Craft Challenge.  It was great because it taught me a whole lot about cooking in a very short period of time.  However, I am transitioning from the 365 Day Craft Challenge to something that I am calling 52 Weeks of Wonderful.

Partly, this is because I have a new job and a whole new schedule and I am not always creating new things every single day like I was.  More importantly though, I want to start transitioning into cooking things more elaborate, more delicious, taking things a few steps up.  Because really, some things can be as simple as a salad yet be incredibly delicious.  A salad can change a meal.  A dessert can make a meal.  The main dish can overshadow anything else.

And those are the things I want to get closer to.  Taking what I know, and making the best version of it.  This pie?  This is wonderful.  I would definitely classify this as wonderful.  The filling would be amazing in cupcakes also, by the way.  So that is my next blog and life step, refining.  Fewer posts, but hopefully better end results.

Thanks for sharing in my food journeys!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Healthy Chicken Enchilada Bake

-1 head cauliflower
-1 lb shredded chicken
-1/2 C black beans
-1 can green chiles
-1 red pepper
-1 C onions, divided
-1 large garlic clove finely chopped
-1 C green enchilada sauce (or red if you prefer)
-Guacamole and sour cream as desired

I cooked my cauliflower in chicken broth with 1/2 C onion, half of the minced garlic, and a little salt and pepper.  You want to boil it about 20 minutes or until it is tender, then pulse it in your food processor in smaller batches until it is riced.

Meanwhile, sautee the peppers and remaining onion and garlic with a little EVOO or bacon grease until the veggies are tender.

Layer the cauliflower rice in a 13x9 inch pan.  Toss together the chicken, green chiles, rinsed beans, and peppers and onions.  Put the salsa over the rice, then add the chicken mix.  Top it with the sauce, and bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes.

I served mine with guacamole, sour cream would also be a good option.  You could also add cheese if you like.

Happy, and healthy, crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chipotle Lime Beef Kabobs

 You Will Need:
-Kabob Ingredients such as meats and veggies, I used 1 lb of london broil type meat, 3 colors of peppers, an onion, and 6 small zucchini to make about a dozen kabobs.

For the glaze and marinade:
-2 TB or more of adobo sauce/pureed chipotle peppers
-1/4 C locally sourced honey
-1/4 C almond milk
-2 TB fresh chopped cilantro
-2 tsp garlic powder
-1 or more tsp of ancho chili seasoning or other spice for heat
-Salt and pepper
-zest of a lime

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together.  Cut the beef into 1 inch cubes and cut the veggies into roughly the same size pieces.

Marinate the beef cubes in about half of the glaze while soaking wooden skewers in water.

Assemble the skewers and cook them on a grill or in a griddle on the stovetop until the meat is cooked to your taste.  I brushed them with a little glaze throughout and added a little water to my griddle so that I could steam them with a lid over it. I really prefer veggies that are tender.

I call some things zone-paleo hybrids because for the most part a lot of the meals I am making are based on crossfit's version of zone (aka no grains and such) but sometimes I throw in something that is more paleo based, especially when I want to make a sauce or glaze.  Regardless, this is a pretty tasty meal no matter what health trend it does or does not fit in.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Paleo Gravy

-2 TB bacon grease or coconut oil
-2 TB coconut flour
-2 C broth or almond milk (I used broth)
-Salt and pepper to taste

On medium heat, melt the grease or oil that you are using.  When it is completely melted and hot, toss in the coconut flour and stir well. When completely incorporated, add in the broth or milk.

Stir and allow to thicken to desired level, adding more broth if necessary because the coconut flour will absorb a lot of oil.

Add seasonings to taste and serve on what you like!

It is really and easy and simple, so I highly suggest giving it a whirl.  You can try other starches or flours if you don't want to worry about it having a hint of coconut.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Life Hack: So You Burnt the Buns...

You know those frustrating days where your oven goes on the blink or you have a pan that all of a sudden has it out for you? Yea, I had one of those for my graduation party.

Also, that was the first day I had ever seen parchment paper nearly catch on fire in an oven.  Still not exactly sure why that one pan decided to go so wrong...

Anyway. it turns into that frustrating moment when the bottoms are burnt on an otherwise perfectly good roll.  A pretzel, in this case.

Luckily for me, my wise mom knew of a trick: using a grater to slough away some char.

To which I thought...

WHAT?!?! WHY DID I NEVER THINK OF THIS?!?!? What a freaking great idea!

So we used a box grater (we have a weird hexagonal one with a lot of options and used a squared off julienne type side, you may want to mess with yours and see which works with this best).  To add a little extra disguise, after the char was taken care of we brushed them with a little butter and extra seasoning.

And you know what? They tasted just delightful!  Mom and the grater saved the day.

I felt obligated to pass this along, because sometimes really dumb stuff like this happens and it is a shame to toss out a pan of something that could, in all reality, be salvaged.

But hopefully, your baking will be perfect and you will never have to use this.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hot Baked Chipotle Chicken Dip

-2-3 lbs fresh or thawed chicken, boiled until shreddable (roughly 30-40 min)
-2 pk cream cheese (I used 1 regular and 1 reduced fat)
-1 pack shredded mozzarella
-1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
-1 red bell pepper
-1 c frozen corn
-2 small tomatoes or use some salsa
-Panko bread crumbs and butter for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Sautée diced pepper, corn, tomato or salsa in a little butter with about a teaspoon of taco seasoning, pinch of garlic, and other seasonings you like as desired.

When veggies are tender, combine with chicken and softened cream cheese. Add remaining ingredients except panko. For the peppers, use the adobo sauce from the can and finely dice extra chipotle peppers as desired. I used about 2, but next time I plan on blending the entire can and starting by adding a third or so and increasing from there for a bit more heat.

Press mixture into a 9x13 glass baking dish and top with a thin layer of panko. Melt a bit of butter and pour over it. Bake until desired golden brown topping. This makes a pretty thick dip, heavy on the chicken, and may not be as chip-friendly as it would be if you either reduced the chicken or added about a cup or so of something like sour cream or greek yogurt.  I used it with scoops, as they are pretty durable, but mostly wanted it for some homemade pretzels.  Just keep in mind what you want to use it with, and adjust as needed.

This filled up my baking dish, so there was a lot of dip to go around.  It got the seal of approval from my family, my best friend, and my boyfriend, so I know it was a pretty solid dish.  Those are very different, and some very picky, taste buds.

I think next time I may use more peppers in more colors just to give a little color variation to the dish.  I was short on time so could not let mine brown as much as I may have liked, but overall I was extremely pleased with the results.

I would definitely recommend this for Super Bowl.  It is a hearty dip, unlike some quesos, so it has the ability to kind of eat like a meal as well.  In my opinion, that is great for an app when it can work like a hybrid dish.  This ends up being somewhere between a dip and a casserole.

I would have liked more heat in this, as I said, but I just did not have the time before the party to chop up all the peppers, and was not where my food processor was.  So just be aware and prepared that you need to allow yourself time to adjust this recipe to the level of heat that you like.  It is well worth the time.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Coconut Shrimp and Chicken with Cauliflower Stir Fry

To Feed Two:
-3/4 lb shrimp
-1 chicken breast
-1 egg
-24 almonds, ground finely
-2 TB coconut flour
-3 to 4 TB shredded coconut
-1 cauliflower head
-1 zucchini, cubed
-1 green pepper, diced
-1/2 C onion
-Soy Sauce
-Asian seasonings of choice (I used a sweet ginger garlic blend, plus a little extra garlic and pepper)
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Coconut oil for frying

First of all, get the cauliflower boiling and cook until tender.  Whip the egg up with a little milk or water in one bowl, and combine the ground almonds, coconut, and coconut flour in a separate bowl.

Hit the chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper.

Pulse the cauliflower in the food processor until it is riced.  Start sauteeing the other diced veggies on low in a little coconut oil or EVOO with some salt, pepper, garlic, and other seasoning as desired.

Heat some more coconut oil on a little lower than medium, you will want at least a couple TB of oil in a large skillet.  Dredge the chicken and shrimp in the egg and then the coconut and almond mix.  Start frying the chicken first and cook until golden brown, adding the shrimp in when it is getting close to done.

Add the cauliflower rice to the veggies in the last 8-10 minutes of cooking.  Douse it with a tablespoon or so of soy sauce.

Serve it up and enjoy!

I remembered getting coconut chicken a long time ago at a Chinese place and have been wanting to make a somewhat healthier version of it.  There probably is no truly healthy fried anything, but a shallow fry in a skillet at least seems healthier to me than a deep fry.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Healthy Fried Chicken and Zucchini Pasta

Ingredients (per serving)
-1 chicken breast, split in half
-approximately 1/4 C almond meal
-1 egg
-1 TB or desired amount of cajun seasoning or similar

-3 zucchini (if small, less if chunky), sliced or cut into strips using a vegetable peeler if you don't have a spiralizer
-3/4 C cherry tomatoes, halved
-1/2 C onion
-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

Sauce (a big batch):
-4 red peppers
-1 C onions
-2 TB italian seasoning or other preferred combo

You will also need EVOO to fry the chicken.

Anyway, mix the egg with just a little water and drench the chicken in it before plopping into the almond meal mixed with whatever seasoning you prefer. Puree the red peppers with the onion and the seasonings and cook on medium or just a bit lower while you are cooking the rest of the goods.

Heat a skillet on medium or just a little higher with EVOO.  Add the chicken and start frying.

In another skillet, start sauteeing the veggies for the pasta with the garlic.

Flip the chicken after about five minutes or so, and continue to cook and flip as needed until done.  Serve with pasta and red pepper sauce.

Sorry for the lackluster photo, my phone camera is slowly dying.  I have it on my to do list to upgrade my phone soon.

I love fish and chicken made in almond meal, and zucchini is a great pasta substitute.  This has been one of my better zone diet-friendly meals in the past couple of weeks.  This would work too for paleo or pretty much any healthy initiative that you may be on.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

-1 large head of cauliflower
-1 C onion, diced
-about 1/4th of a bunch of cilantro, or more to taste
-optional zest of a small lime
-salt and or spices as desired (definitely garlic and maybe something for heat)
-chicken stock or water for boiling (or combination)

Cut the florets off the cauliflower head and boil in water, stock, or a combination until tender.  If you use water, I would suggest putting a little butter or similar, along with salt. Toss in the onions and let them cook as well.

Once it is all tender, drain and transfer the veggies to a food processor along with the cilantro and other spices as desired and pulse until it is well shredded.

You can also add in salsa or similar if you like and serve it alongside fajita fixings or whatever other food you may want to eat typical rice with.

I really like cauliflower as a rice substitute, as long as it is cooked with stock or similar and seasoned well so that it does not really still taste like cauliflower.

I may try to adapt this into a fried rice at some point.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Orange Chicken Salad

Ingredients (for approximately 3-4 salads):
-juice and zest of 1 large navel orange
-3 garlic cloves
-1 TB siracha
-1 TB maple syrup (the real stuff, or use locally sourced honey instead)
-2 tsp of a grease (coconut oil, bacon grease, butter, whatever you prefer, I used bacon because I love it)
-1 C water
-1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

-2 heads of romaine (3 cups chopped for each salad)
-2 chicken breasts
-1.5 C sliced cherry tomatoes
-4 green bell peppers, diced (or mix the colors)
-2 C onion, diced
-Other salad ingredients and toppings as desired

Pulse everything for the sauce in your food processor until well blended.  Transfer to a sauce pan and cook on medium or just slightly lower until it has reduced by approximately half.  You could also make this sauce ahead and use it as a marinade.  I personally want to use it like a wing sauce soon!

Anyway, transfer it to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, salt and pepper your chicken and toss it in a skillet to get it searing on both sides.  I added a couple spoonfuls of my orange sauce to the sides as it cooked.  Remember, there is maple syrup in it so it is going to carmelize, be prepared to reduce your heat if needed.

Once the chicken was mostly cooked and each side had some great looking color to it, I reduced the heat and added half of the veggies.  The other half I had to cook in a separate skillet because it is a whole lot of veggies to make 3 or 4 of these salads.  Season with garlic, salt, and pepper, or an asian blend as desired.

I also added a half cup of water to the veggie/chicken skillet and covered to let them all cook the rest of the way.

When all that is finished, you just need to toss the veggies and lettuce and tomatoes together and add the chicken after cutting into strips or chunks as desired.  You can top the salad with the sauce or add it to the bowl and toss to coat everything.

I am hoping to finally get back to blogging every day.  I have missed my blog! Life definitely has a way of taking over sometimes and throwing up really interesting situations that derail things a bit, but I seem to be getting back in the swing of things after the thesis, final classwork, prepping for graduation (I am speaking at it), and job hunting.  The last few months have been quite a scramble.

And maybe, just maybe, I am not Super Woman or Batgirl.  Apparently there is this small chance that I can't always fit every single thing I want to do into one day.  I am going to have to work on that.  ;)

Anyway, this sauce was really great and like I said I am itching to use it as a wing sauce or similar. Other things I think it could work on would be something like fish tacos.  It should be pretty versatile.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Super Simple Cinnamon Rolls with an Orange Ginger Buttercream Glaze

-2C AP flour, with another 3/4 C set aside
-1/4C sugar
-1 Packet Red Star Platinum Yeast (I must say, I am quickly becoming a fan)
-1/2C warm water
-1/4C milk (I use vitamin D milk, don't skimp!)
-2.5 TB salted butter (you can use unsalted and add a pinch of salt if you prefer)
-2 very large eggs

-1/4C sugar
-2 TB cinnamon
-melted butter for brushing

-3TB nearly melted butter
-1C powdered sugar
-Juice of 1 navel orange
-2 shakes of ginger
-Water or extra sugar if needed to get desired thickness

I know, that is a laundry list of ingredients.  BUT they are worth it.  This all started because one of the security guards at work has been hounding me about making cinnamon rolls for about the last month.  Every time I walk out into the hallway he asks me when I am going to bring them in.  SO finally, I decided to suck it up and make some.  This is actually my first-ever batch making them myself, and I was pretty happy with the results.  Look how cute they are!

Anyway, toss the flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl.  Microwave the milk, water, and butter for maybe 10 seconds or so, and a few more seconds as needed to get it to a temperature of about 115-120F, without getting too high as it will kill your yeast.  No violence needed in these rolls.

Mix the liquids in with the dry and combine.  Add the eggs.  Slowly add some of the remaining flour that you had set aside until it just forms a dough.  It will be a really soft and slightly sticky dough.  Let it rest about ten minutes.

Liberally flour your countertop and plop the dough out.  Roll it into a very long rectangle, mine was a max of 6 inches wide or so and I really don't know how long other than the majority of my kitchen island.  I wanted to make smaller rolls, but if you want larger ones with a lot of curls then make it fatter.  I rolled mine out pretty thin, as you can tell by the spirals.

Anyway, brush it with melted butter and add on your cinnamon topping.  Roll it up tightly and cut pieces about an inch or so off.  Place them in a glass baking dish greased with butter.  I actually packed a little brown sugar, cinnamon mixture on the bottom so that they would have a carmelized feature.  I just thought it might be fun.

I spaced mine out to cover a 9x13 glass dish, knowing that they would rise a bit and spread out.  I would say it was maybe a half inch or so spacing, and I opted for random spacing as opposed to rows just because that is how I am.  Let them rise for about an hour or until doubled in size in a warm place.  I let mine sit in my gas oven.  You may want to preheat your oven to 200F and shut it off and let them rise in there if you do not have a gas one.  Any warm place will do.

I left mine in after the hour was up to go through the preheat cycle, which did not seem to hurt anything.  I baked mine at 350F for about 22 minutes.

Let them cool for a few minutes while you mix up the glaze.  I mixed mine up somewhat thick and put a small dollop on to let it melt over the rolls.  You could use cream cheese instead of butter if you prefer.

Devour.  And enjoy.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rustic Tree Bark Wedding Cake in Buttercream Icing

I have always seen the cakes that look like trees, and I got the opportunity to help my mom out on one this weekend.

Although, when I say help, I kind of mean that I basically came in and commandeered everything.  Because sometimes that is just kind of how I am.  Commandeered in a nice, polite way of course!

Anyway what I quickly discovered is that a cake like this is a LOT easier than I thought it would be.  For base icing, I made little batches of color by putting white icing in a solo cup and putting a drop or two of liquid brown cake coloring in and stirring  it around so that it was really only halfway mixed in.  Then I used an offset spatula to coat the sides and top of the cake before smoothing it out.

It was an awesome way to get a varied base without having to go to any work.  In fact, I actually went to LESS work because I just halfway mixed icing.  I call that, best cake ever!

To make the knots, I used essentially whatever tip I had on the bag so first a writing tip later a piping tip, it really doesn't make a lot of difference.  All you need to do is just pipe it in a circle and then build it up a few layers high.  Then, using an offset spatula I smeared the sides back down and blended them into the base icing.

I used a writing tip to make the lines.  For the heart, I did the outline with a cookie cutter, and used a toothpick to etch the letters before filling it all in with a writing tip.  If you get your tip down in the line before you start squeezing, it pushes the other icing out a bit and gives it a rough edge, just as if you had carved it.

Then my mom added back in the roses and leaves.  Roses are sadly not my forte, and mine always look sad and wilty.  But tree bark is apparently right up my alley.

The cake was sat on a tree round and it really just topped off the whole look perfectly.  I was very pleasantly surprised with how this cake looked in its entirety and how simple it was to pull off.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pork and Cauliflower Saffron Rice

-Pork cut of choice (I typically buy tenderloin sections and cut them into fourths or so)
-1 cauliflower head (I like the orange ones)
-2 C mini sweet peppers
-2-3 C diced tomato
-2 C red onion, diced
-1 pinch of saffron threads
-2 tsp dried parsley
-1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, leaves chopped
-4-6 garlic cloves
-3 tsp cumin
-Salt and pepper to taste

Get a dutch oven going on the stove at about medium heat.  Mix the parsley leaves, 4 garlic cloves, and cumin together (preferably blending or grinding together to make a paste with a little EVOO).  Use that combination plus salt and pepper to season the pork.  Add a generous dose of EVOO to the bottom of the dutch oven and put the pork in.

Add 1 C of red onions to the pork.  Let this all cook a few minutes on each side (for the pork) and then add about 3 C of water or chicken stock.  If just using water, I would suggest adding a little butter or bacon grease.  Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook for 2-3 hours or until shreddable.

About 30 or so minutes before you want to serve this, cut the cauliflower head into small pieces and add to boiling water (I used about a cup of broth from the pork and 2 or so more cups of water). Add salt and saffron.  Cook until tender, I like to cook it at a low boil.

Simultaneously, in a large skillet with a little EVOO in the bottom add your remaining vegetables and garlic cloves that are finely minced. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Add about a half cup of water or broth.  Cook until veggies are tender.

When the cauliflower is tender, use a potato masher to break it down into rice-sized pieces.  Add to the sauteeing veggies and toss to combine.  I like to add just another half-ladle or so of broth while everything finishes cooking.  Serve the saffron "rice" and veggies topped with the pork and onions.

My favorite part of this dish is all the bright colors.  It is always really gray in the winter and boring, but the weather has finally started to get a bit better and springier.  So, all the festive colors were exactly what I needed.  Even if you have to use white cauliflower, the saffron will still give it a festive color.  But having the orange cauliflower to begin with just gives an extra advantage!

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Turkey Loaf Stuffed Peppers: Thanksgiving Cravings

Ingredients (per person):
-1 large green bell pepper
-1/2 C onion, diced
-1/2 lb ground turkey
-2 large carrots, finely diced
-1 egg
-1/4 C almond meal
-1/2 TB sage
-2 tsp cumin
-Salt and pepper

Slice the pepper in half and take out the seeds and such.  Use your kitchenaid to mix the remaining ingredients together to make a filling.  The smaller you cut your veggies the better.  If you are like me and you hate crunchy veggies, allow me to suggest sauteeing the carrots especially first.

Anyway mix it all up and stuff it in your pepper.  I put mine on my donut pan flipped upside down because these little buggers had no desire to stay sitting level.

Roast at 350F for 35-45 minutes or until everything is brown and done.  I used a knife to cut into the center of mine to make sure it was cooked all the way through.

And then I drowned it in ketchup.  Because I love ketchup.  And will not apologize.

Every now and then I just get the craving for really warm, inviting, hearty tasting food.  I definitely think this qualifies while still staying healthy.  That is important to me.  I ate one of the halves for dinner and the other for lunch the next day.  This was a really fun, self-contained way to do a turkeyloaf also.  I would definitely like to try this again with meatloaf.

No matter what you are stuffing inside the peppers, using a donut pan or a muffin tin will help you keep them upright.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Breakfast Poblano: Eggs, Bacon, Spinach, Tomato, Onion

You will need:
-2 large poblano peppers (or 4 small)
-4 eggs
-4-6 strips of bacon (4 if thick)
-1 C diced onion
-4 C spinach
-1.5 C tomato

Cook the bacon first and set aside to drain on a paper towel.  Preheat your oven to 400F and roast the peppers for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally.  When they are done, you can slice them down the front and scoop out the seeds.  Set them aside until ready to stuff.

I cooked my veggies in the bacon grease, but you can opt for EVOO if you prefer.  Anyway toss the onion and spinach in and give them a head start before tossing in your tomato.  It probably does not really matter the order.  But that is how I happened to cook mine.

After your veggies are done and your onion is starting to turn clear, go ahead and crack the eggs and scramble them in.  You don't want to completely cook your eggs as they will continue to cook in the oven.  They need to be just set.

Divide the mixture between the two peppers, stuffing them as full as you can.  I mix some of my bacon in with the eggs and then save the rest for topping.  Bake for another 15 minutes.

Devour and enjoy.  I highly suggest guacamole or other topping.

Now, I know I have blogged something similar to this before and that I blog stuffed peppers basically all the time.  But I have to admit, I pretty much love them.  Poblanos are absolutely my favorite (not a big fan of the cubanelle as much) and they just end up with this great taste and texture that is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It is insane!

Also, I do have to pretty much apologize for the 365 Day Craft Challenge becoming not so thesis and finishing up grad school definitely derailed all my fun shenanigans for this second round.  However, with the semester winding down, I am hoping to get back in the swing of creativity.  But until then, I have a graduation to get ready for, a new job to find, classes to finish, and my sanity to keep.

And as always, happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Saffron Cauliflower Rice

Hello from the iPad....we will see how this goes!

I used:
1/4 of a head of orange cauliflower 
1 pinch of saffron threads 
Pinch of garlic (in retrospect I suggest a clove of real garlic. I'm becoming quite biased)
1/4 c diced onion
Salt and pepper
About 2 c of water
In retrospect, I'd also add a teaspoon or two of parsley

I threw all this in a pot and boiled it. Now. Don't get me wrong. Without butter...or meat...or something else to go in this it will be pretty bland. So you need to build things up around this. This makes a great base for quite a few dishes. 

You should be able to smash the cauliflower after about fifteen minutes or so. Estimated time of course, I was not paying full attention. But you want to stir it some, essentially it can just boil away and do its thing. 

Then mash it with a potato masher. I think I am going to save this and make some fish tomorrow to eat with it or maybe chicken. Like I said, this kind of thing makes a great base for a dish, so I am pretty excited. Cauliflower and I are becoming friends. 

Since this was already an orange cauli it really made it a vibrant and beautiful color. For someone who fully believes that you eat with your eyes as well, I could not be happier. I am looking forward to using this as a base for a healthy spin in Paella! 

Happy crafting!
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Peanut Sauce Using Almond Milk

-1 C almond milk
-3TB PB2
-1 TB chili paste
-1 small garlic clove
-Salt and pepper to taste

This is super simple, and all you have to do is throw everything together in a food processor and let it work its magic.  I did not cook mine down, I actually used it as a raw sauce.

I served mine on chicken and vegetables that I put on cauliflower rice with a little soy sauce!

Happy crafting. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

-2 C plus 2 TB AP Flour
-6 TB butter softened, plus extra for melting, I use salted
-1 C milk or almond milk
-1 TB baking powder (I prefer Clabber Girl)
-cinnamon sugar mix

Preheat your oven to 400F.  Using the dough hook of your mixer, mix all the ingredients except the cinnamon sugar together and extra butter.  Add more flour as needed to get the dough to a point where it is still very moist and soft, but can be handled and is not too sticky. You want to be able to roll it out.

Dust your work surface with ample flour and turn your dough out on to it.  Roll it out fairly thin and brush with butter.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the surface.  Fold the dough over as shown in the top left picture, rolling it over about four times or so.  Flatten the rolled dough and take a rolling pin to it again.  Brush with butter again and repeat the cinnamon sugar.

Fold the sides in to form a square, overlapping them like a brochure.  Roll or press out so that the dough is about a half inch to an inch thick.  You should be able to get approximately 12 square biscuits out of it.  I have made mine bigger and gotten 9 and cut some of these quite small and got 16, so adjust your recipe according to the size and number of biscuits you want.

I just cut mine with a big knife into squares because it means I don't have to reroll anything and no dough is wasted.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 18 minutes.  As an optional addition, mix 1/2 C powdered sugar and a dash of milk or two together to form a glaze and coat when the biscuits come out of the oven.

You can use the buttering and folding method for any roll out biscuit recipe to turn it in to a flaky layer type biscuit.  I think it makes them a little more crispy and buttery tasting, so I am a pretty big fan of it.  You could use this same idea for savory biscuits too, with any compound butter or garlic butter brushed between the layers.  It is a really simple way to make biscuits look a little more pizzazzy.

Not to mention, I have a real issue with waiting for dough to proof...and that is still the reason I have never made my own cinnamon rolls.  It also could have something to do with the fact that I am always starving right when I wake up and have no patience.  A biscuit dough can be thrown together really quickly, and that is more along the lines of what I like in the mornings.

In other news, my thesis is almost written, which hopefully means I can get back to more exciting recipes soon.  It is a sad fact of life that sometimes you have to prioritize what you have to get done over what you want to do.  The last semester of graduate school has gotten the better of my schedule, but I am just over a month away from being finished, and I am quite excited.

And with a tasty breakfast item like this...who can complain!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Zucchini Pasta and Red Pepper Marinara

For a batch of sauce (approximately 8 1/4th cup servings):
-6 red bell peppers
-1 C onions, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1.5 TB italian seasoning
-1 TB balsamic vinegar
-salt and pepper to taste

Per person on zucchini pasta:
-2 small zucchini or equivalent

-Meat or mushrooms as desired

First, cut the peppers up and remove the seeds, and puree them in a food processor or blender. Sautee the onions and garlic in a little EVOO until the onions start to turn clear.  Add in the pepper blend and seasonings, and balsamic, and cook on low for about an hour.  If you want a smooth sauce (my preference) allow it to cool a little and return it to the food processor or blender.

Afterward, cook your meat or mushrooms or whatever else you will be serving this with.  I used a quarter pound of ground beef.  Season it as desired and cook until almost done.

I cut some of my zucchini with a potato peeler and some I just cut with my knife, or you can buy a fancy spiralizer online.  Regardless, cut up the veggies as you see fit and add them to the beef skillet with 1/4C of roasted red pepper sauce, more as desired.  Allow that all to cook together for 3-5 minutes, remove, and enjoy!

I actually really like zucchini as pasta, it is already one of my favorite vegetables and a great substitute for something that I have always loved.  I look forward to experimenting more with this.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Peanut Butter Bacon Rice Krispy Treats

-1/2 stick butter
-1/2 C peanut butter
-5 3/4 cups of rice krispies
-5 cups of mini marshmallows
-1 C peanut butter and chocolate mixed baking chips
-8-10 strips of bacon, fried crispy and crumbled

You will need a big kettle and a sturdy wooden spoon.  Set your burner to low heat and add the butter. Have a greased 9x13 baking pan ready as well.

Once the butter melts, add the peanut butter and marshmallows.  Stir constantly until they are melted.  Add in the remaining ingredients, saving a bit of bacon for topping the treats.  Stir to combine.  I have seen wooden spoons break in marshmallow treats before, so bring one that means business.

Before I did all this, I got my ingredients prepped in two bowls: cereal, baking chips, and bacon pieces in one and marshmallows and peanut butter in the other.  This made it easy to dump it all in and go.  If you are really wise and get the PB all on the marshmallows in a glob, you may not even have to do very tough cleanup.  That is my kind of party.

Once it is all well combined, turn the mix out into the baking pan.  Spray your hands with cooking spray and press the treats down to compact.  Allow them to cool a bit then top with extra chocolate and bacon pieces.

I think adding in the baking chips is a really great idea BECAUSE I think it essentially makes these foolproof.  I could be wrong.  But baking chips typically return to their solid state, meaning that the inclusion of them should essentially help these firm up.  Regardless, they are AMAZING.

Seriously these are going to be a massive hit at work and I am insanely excited to take them in.  If you aren't a fan of bacon in treats, feel free to leave it out.  But this is my favorite food fad to date!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Amazing Oven Baked Ribs

You will need:
-Onion Powder
-Chili powder
-garlic powder
-brown sugar
-salt and pepper to taste
BBQ sauce of choice

First, put the ribs on some aluminum foil on a baking sheet and give a light dusting of all of the herbs and
spices.  Pack on a thin layer of brown sugar.  Flip the rack over and do the same to the other side

Wrap the ribs up in foil and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Unwrap carefully upon removal and coat with BBQ sauce. Return the ribs to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

Devour! This was an awesome idea sent my way by my sister, who made these and made me quite jealous that I was not there to taste them.  This is a really simple way to make a special dinner, and sometimes ribs are on sale for a pretty good price! The brown sugar is what makes these fantastic, so don't skimp!

Happy crafting!
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Simple, Healthy Red Pepper Sauce

You will need (makes 2 cups):
-6 red bell peppers, rough chopped for food processor
-1 C onion, chopped
-2 tsp garlic
-Heat (so you like cayenne, maybe chipotle, maybe ancho, use your favorite spice or hot sauce to bring it to the level you prefer)
-Fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste
-4 to 5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 TB minced onion
-Optional pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a pan and add the chopped onions. Cook on medium while you puree the peppers.

Add the pepper puree and the spices and remaining ingredients to the onions and cook at medium for about 15 minutes before reducing to a simmer.  I let mine go about an hour total.  It is perfectly fine to still have some liquid left, as it needs to be a sauce, but you want it to be pretty thick.

I allowed mine to cool before I put it back in my food processor to blend in the onions.  It ended up the consistency of a marinara you might get with mozzarella sticks...

In fact, I could really use some mozz sticks right now.  I really should have had the foresight to get all of the ingredients to make that happen!

But alas, I will eat my yummy veggie sauce on healthy things.  I am thinking of using it either on zucchini boats or in place of tomato sauce in a veggie lasagna.

Nothing against tomato sauce.  This is just more interesting!

You very likely could add tomato sauce type herbs like basil and oregano and come up with a pretty good spin on it, if for some reason you were looking to switch off tomato things or perhaps just wanted to try something new.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Breakfast Stuffed Pepper

Ingredients (per person):
-1 cubanelle or poblano pepper (I typically buy ones 3-4 inches long)
-1.5 C kale or kale and spinach blend (measured before cooking)
-1/2 C onion
-2-3 strips of bacon
-Pinch of garlic or seasoning blend as desired
-Salt and pepper
-1 egg (I use jumbo, you may want to use 2 if you use smaller ones)

First, preheat your oven to 400F and roast your pepper of choice for 15-20 minutes, turning multiple times throughout.

Meanwhile, fry up your bacon and remove to drain on a paper towel or similar.  I suggest frying it just shy of where you like it, because it will cook a little more in the oven.  I like to sautee my kale and onion in the bacon grease that is left in the skillet, but you can use EVOO if you prefer.  Season your veggies with desired herbs, salt, and pepper.  Go easy on the pepper, especially if using mostly kale.

When the pepper is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.  Reduce your oven heat to 350F.  Split the pepper down the front and remove the seeds.

When your veggies are done (onions starting to turn clear) add in your egg and cook until just set, as it will cook the rest of the way in the pepper.  Stuff your pepper with your filling and top with crumbles of bacon.

Return the pepper to the oven and bake at 350F for another 20 minutes or so, until your egg is completely done.

Cubanelles are more of a sweet pepper, they are definitely not spicy, and I find that I like poblanos better for basically everything.  But I don't dislike the cubanelle, and it is a good pepper to start your day with if you don't like to have any levels of spice that early in the morning.  You could also add cheese to this, but I am using that very sparingly these days.

This would also be tasty to do with sausage, but I never have it on hand.  And I love bacon.  I mean I really love it.  Probably as much as I love desserts.

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